Give It Up!
July 18, 2014 • By Ed Wrather
Jesus said to him (The Rich Young Ruler), “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. - Matthew 19:21-22 NKJV.
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. - Matthew 6:24 NKJV.
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? - Luke 9:24-26 NKJV.
At one time, German Sterligov was one of the richest men in Russia. He was an oligarch who was rich, powerful, and famous. Sterligov was the first legal Russian millionaire since the Revolution in 1917. He began the first Russian commodities exchange in the early 1990s and had more than 2500 employees. He ran for President in Russia but only succeeded in creating a lot of debt and sold his four-story mansion in Moscow to pay it off. An idea then took hold of Sterligov, what if he were to give it all up? He then proceeded to sell off and give away all that he owned. He sold his penthouse in New York, sold his retreat in Geneva and castle in Burgundy, sold his offices in Wall Street, London and in Moscow. He also gave away shares worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
What did Sterligov do after he had gotten rid of all of his riches? He took his family, consisting of his wife and five kids and camped out in the middle of some woods about 60 miles from Moscow. With the small amount of money they had left, they built a little log cabin with no electricity. Only a few days after they moved out of the tent and into the cabin their fifth child was born there. Sterligov says this about his new life, “Not in a million years do I want to be a businessman with these silly, shiny badges of success; the Rublyovka houses, swanky yachts, Bentleys and so on. I’m happy with my peace in the countryside, and my sheep, along with my wife and kids. Being super-rich is a kind of slavery from which we’re free, thankfully.” (BBC; Daily Mail 07.17.14)
Sterligov does claim to be part of the Russian Orthodox Church although there was no clear statement that his faith led him to the decision that he made to leave his riches behind. However, it may be that his faith is part of why he and his wife have such peace with their decision now. Sterligov’s story is somewhat similar to what the Rich Young Ruler from the Bible would have had to give up to follow Jesus. It would have been difficult, but possible.
What about you? Have you given up anything to follow Jesus? Many in ministry have given up careers and comfortable lives to launch out into the unknown world of an uncertain future not knowing where they will end up or even how they will survive financially. Many have left behind their addictions to follow Jesus. Many have left behind lives of crime to follow Jesus. Many have left behind their sinful lifestyles to follow Jesus. Many have left behind the faiths of their parents and ancestors to follow Jesus even though some of them were killed because of leaving the Muslim faith. What about you? Have you given up anything to follow Jesus?